“Super Grandma” worked all her life. Before COVID-19 killed him

Sushma Mane worked while she was alive.

At the age of 8, she helped her family make wedding decorations. At the age of 20, he found work as a junior librarian in Mumbai, where he was born. He worked in the public library for 32 years before retiring as its administrative director. He then became an insurance agent, calling sales for 15 years and visiting clients. On the way, she raised three children, divorced her husband, supported a girl whose marriage was broken, and became the granddaughter’s second mother.

On August 30, 2020, he died of COVID-19 at a hospital in Mumbai. He was 76 years old.

“When you think of grandmothers, you have a certain image in your mind – rocking chairs, embroiderers, books,” said Mane 28-year-old grandson Viraj Pradan. “It simply came to our notice then. She was a Super Grandma. ”

Prague grew up in the suburbs of Mumbai, clinging to middle-class childhood. The family hurried to put food on the table. His parents divorced when he was 12 years old, it was Mane who took “him” and his mother under his wing.

While Mane’s daughter worked 12 hours a day as a school librarian, she put on her shoes while working full-time, transporting Pradan to school, attending PTA meetings, serving on school committees, supervising homework, and cooking.

“It was just me,” Pradhan said with a sad smile. “When I was not at school, I used to mark sales calls with him. We were inseparable. ”

Mane was the oldest employee of the insurance company where he worked. It was not possible. He roamed the city, preferring public transit instead of expensive taxis to visit customers. He would take a heavy bag full of documents from each shoulder and often turn down offers to help carry them.

“At this age, they help me balance my body,” he once told his manager, Swati Mittal.

“I do not think I will ever meet anyone like him in my life,” Mittal told BuzzFeed News. “He always said he would work as long as he was alive.”

The first Super Granny armor cracks occurred in 2017. A routine medical examination revealed an unusual electrocardiogram. Immediately after that, Mane began to have an internal loss in the blood, և hemoglobin levels dropped sharply. Doctors have never been able to diagnose his underlying condition. “Every few months, when the hemoglobin level dropped, he became weak and had difficulty breathing,” Prada said. “He was too tired to even walk around the apartment.”

Eventually, Mane had to be hospitalized every few months. Hospital staff took blood samples so often that her skin became as thin as paper. He often needed an oxygen machine to breathe. “We had a pulse oximeter much earlier than usual because of COVID-19,” said Prada. “Oxygen masks were common for us. The results of her blood tests determined what our next few weeks would be like. Anxiety has become a constant part of our lives. ”

Still, that crisis strengthened their bond. Mane spent his days on the balcony of their small apartment, talking to the plants he called his children, listening to old Bollywood songs, and posing for photos taken by Pradan. Like most Indians, he was obsessed with WhatsApp, often sending jokes, funny videos, and “good morning” messages to his grandson. He often sent her text messages, his long messages knocked like old-fashioned letters.

Dear Virage!

You ate

Are you on time?

How was your meeting?

Stay cool և positive.

Take your medication.

I am well.

Do not worry

What time are you coming back?

Good day, baby.

– Aaji (Marathi: “grandmother”)

At the end of 2019, Pradhan quit his full-time job at a digital media company and moved to work so that he would have enough time to care for his grandmother. Their roles had changed. “He used to be the person people depended on,” he said, “but now he depends on me.” He was not ready for that. “

Due to Grandma’s condition, COVID-19 appeared on Prada radars much earlier than most of the world noticed. He read reports of the terrible disease in China and then in Italy with terrible fear. “Despite our frequent hospital visits, I used to control things,” he said, “but I thought that if this virus ever came here, I could not control it.” “I was terrified of what would happen to my grandmother.”

In March, when India tightened nationwide block With a little warning, Pradhan prayed for his grandmother to be stretched. Within a few days, the hemoglobin level dropped again.

During the first three months of the blockade, Mane had to be hospitalized three times, which proved to be much more difficult due to the epidemic. Her symptoms, such as cough, low blood oxygen levels, and fatigue, were so similar to the symptoms of COVID-19 that doctors often refused to examine her without the COVID test, which was difficult to obtain at the time. Later, when hospitals were filled with KOVID-19 patients, it was simply difficult to admit them. the beds were not enough.

On August 25, Prague hosted the COVID-19 test for her grandmother at home. Results will take 24 hours. He had no appetite that night, he was so tired that he needed help walking a few steps from his bed to the bathroom. Pradan slept for a while, then called Uber to take him to a nearby hospital in the middle of the night. It refused to accept him until his COVID-19 results were completed. He spent the night furiously going to various medical centers, until the next day, when Mane was admitted to a state hospital where treatment was subsidized en masse, as opposed to a private clinic.

That good news was followed by two bad news. His hemoglobin level was still falling, and later that day he tested positive for coronavirus.

“I do not cry easily. “But the first time he was put on a ventilator, I broke down,” Prada said. Immediately after she and her mother underwent an examination, they also tested positive for COVID-19. They had no symptoms.

“I try not to think about where, how we got infected, whether I infected my grandmother,” he said. “Thinking that way would probably make me feel like I could have prevented it somehow.”

Their last conversation on the phone – just before Mane turned on the air conditioner – lasted 45 seconds. Pradan’s uncle, through a nurse, managed to send a phone call to Mane in the intensive care unit. Pradhan told him to stop worrying about hospital bills, get well, eat, and return home as soon as possible. She told him not to worry about eating his meals on time (“when he is in a gloomy bed,” said Prada).

When the call ended, he said he “somehow felt that way[he’d] This is probably the last time I talked to him. “

Mane never wanted a big funeral,, the epidemic secured his wish. Only three people were present at his cremation: Pradan, one of his sons, a close family friend who looked like a son to him. Mane’s daughter could not be present. He was quarantined at the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19.

Like all other people who died in hospital from the coronavirus, Mane’s body was wrapped in a bag. It was run by workers who wore personal protective equipment from head to toe; no one had the right to touch it. Pradhan said he could not bring himself to see her. He asked his uncle, Mane’s son, to put a letter under his feet, thanking him for everything he had done, like flowers on a mountain.

“The only thing that will always be wrong with me is that he went to the hospital alone,” he said. “He always wanted to go home, to his bed.”

Mane’s manager, Mittal, said he was shocked to receive the call. “I stopped breathing,” he said. “She used to be in the hospital a lot, but we used to make her come back every time. We never thought he would come back this time! Wherever he is now, he spreads happiness. I am convinced of that. “

Months later, Pradan’s phone kept leaking pictures and videos of Mane. He said he could not look at them because it was too painful.

Her grandmother’s unread message is sitting on her WhatsApp. This was the last time he had sent her a message. It’s been there for months և he hasn’t opened it yet.

“It probably has something in common, like before the ‘good morning,'” he said. “I have not checked yet. I do not have the courage. “

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